Gerry Adams the leader of Sinn Fein the Irish nationalist party was arrested and has now been released. What is this about?
I was involved in the civil rights movement and the Derry Labor Party in Northern Ireland in the late 1960's early 1970's. I took part in the Bogside uprising in 1969 and was a member of the Bogside Citizens Defense Association which ran the Bogside for a period. At no time did I ever support the military campaign of the Provisional IRA as the military wing of Sinn Fein was known. I and other members of the Militant group in Ireland at the time said this campaign would lead to a vicious sectarian conflict, give the British government and forces and their Loyalist allies the opportunity and excuse to divide and repress the movement. The result would be that the Provo campaign would be defeated and a generation of Catholic youth would be wasted. This is what has happened. This is shown in the peace deal where some small changes were made in the North of Ireland which reduced discrimination against Catholics and Sinn Fein has been allowed to share political power with the main Protestant party.
However while the majority of the population in the North of Ireland are glad the war is over there are some sections that are not. A wing of the state apparatus, a section of the Protestant elite, a section of the Protestant paramilitaries and elements in the British military and ex British military are very bitter that the leaders of Sinn Fein and former leaders of the IRA were released under the peace agreement and some of them such as Martin McGuiness, the former IRA leader in Derry, hold important positions. He is presently the deputy prime minister in Northern Ireland. This is part of the background to the arrest of Gerry Adams. These forces are wanting to get revenge.
Much is made of the coming elections in the South of Ireland where Sinn Fein have been expected to do well. Many commentators have been saying, and Sinn Fein itself has been saying, that the arrest and especially its timing is related to damaging Sinn Fein at the polls. I do not believe this is a major factor in the arrest of Gerry Adams. Unless I am very wrong his arrest might even increase the support for Sinn Fein. One of the reasons for this is that it is so blatantly sectarian and also so blatantly lets the forces of the British state off the hook. It is very well documented that the British state worked with Protestant paramilitaries to organize the assassination not only of IRA members but also of of ordinary Catholics. There are also of course the massacres such as Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 which was carried out by the British Army. The British government and the British military and their paramilitary squads have not been arrested. They have not been questioned in a police cell for 17 hours a day over the past days.
The majority of the people of Northern Ireland became exhausted with the 30 year war. So it came to an end on the basis of the peace agreement. However Northern Ireland is more segregated than ever before in housing, schooling and the workplace. Poverty and unemployment are still endemic. Deep bitterness from the 30 year sectarian war still exists. Unless there is a socialist revolution which would sweep throughout England, Scotland, Wales, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland a new bitter conflict will break out in the years or decades ahead. The forces that arrested Adams are playing with fire.